Our forty-third installment of Who Wore It Best features seven former Avs with a variety of real and unfulfilled talent. Some claim that #18 is cursed. This jersey number appears to have its own negating effect. Which will be your choice to rep the ol’ four-three?
Dan Smith: D 1998-2000, 15GP, 0-0-0, 9PIM
This career AHLer picked up a handful of fill-in opportunities for the Avalanche over two seasons. Colorado’s seventh round pick in 1995, Smith played fifteen full seasons of professional hockey around the USA and Europe.
Jaroslav Obslut: RW 2001-2002, 3GP, 0-0-0, 0PIM
Obslut was drafted by Winnipeg in 1994 at 188th.His first sniff of the NHL finally arrived in 2000 but with the St Louis Blues. A waiver pick-up brought him to Colorado the next season. Sent back down by the Avs that same year, Jaroslav quit the North American circuit for better opportunities in Europe. The 2017-18 season found him back in his native Slovakia playing for Bratislava.
Mikhail Kuleshov: LW 2003-2004, 3GP, 0-0-0, 0PIM
Kuleshov’s brief career in professional hockey began and ended in Russia. A standout of the Russian U18 team, Colorado chose him at 25th in the 2000 draft. Three seasons on the Bears of Hershey, PA only translated to three games with the parent club. He returned to Mother Russia during the 2004 lockout for only three seasons more.
T J Galiardi: C 2008-2008 (#43), 2009-2012 (#39), 177GP, 33-41-74, 93PIM
At first blush, it appears Galiardi may have broken the curse of #43. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those stats fell into Terry Joseph’s column while wearing the more supportive #39. As a member of Club 43, he played in just 11 games adding a goal and three assists. For a description of his much more productive journey in the 39 jersey, please check out Who Wore It Best 39.
Justin Mercier: LW 2009-2010, 9GP, 1-1-2, 0PIM
Colorado took a flyer on Mercier in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. A promising product of the US development program, Justin appeared in his first two-dozen games for the Lake Erie Monsters with but a single assist to his credit. After playing a handful of games for Colorado, he was sent back to the AHL for good. After several seasons wandering throughout the lower American leagues, Mercier finished his career with the 2014-15 season in Italy.
Cameron Gaunce: D 2010-2011, 11GP, 1-0-1, 16PIM
Gaunce came to Colorado via the third round of the 2008 draft. His potential was best displayed while aiding Mississauga’s deep play-off run in 2009-10 with thirteen assists. Cameron’s season with Lake Eire was less impressive. By the time he joined the Avalanche, once again, the bearer of #43 was unable to transition to the NHL game. Following brief stints with Dallas and Pittsburgh, Gaunce continues to play where he can, most recently back in Cleveland with the Monsters.
Michael Sgarbossa: C 2012-2015, 9GP, 0-1-1, 14PIM
Mercifully, our tour of imaginary awesomeness comes to an end. Sgarbossa was a consistent scoring leader in the OHL when he was picked up by the San Jose Sharks in 2010. Traded along with Jamie McGinn and Mike Connally to Colorado in 2012 for Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi, Sgarbossa put up nineteen goals and 25 assists for the Lake Eire Monsters. Thusly impressed, Colorado called him up in 2012. In six games wearing the dreaded 43, Michael went completely scoreless.
Sent back to Cleveland and devastated by the experience, Sgarbossa traded scoring for penalty minutes even getting a suspension by the AHL for a vicious slash. Colorado gave Michael one more chance in 2014 before trading him to Anaheim for Matt Clark. He regained his scoring touch with the AHL Gulls in San Diego but ten games with the NHL Ducks resulted in two assists. Sgarbossa then spent two seasons with the Florida Panthers organization but eventually let go from there as well.
The Washington Capitals are the latest team to be enthralled by his unmet potential signing him for the 2018-19 season on a one-year, two-way contract.
And there you have the sad tale of #43. Who will you choose to be Colorado’s standard bearer from Club 43?